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    US INTERESTED IN STABLE RUSSIA-EUROPE RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti)-The meeting between the Russian and American presidents in Bratislava was purposefully chosen as part of George Bush's European tour, says Professor Alexei Bogaturov, the deputy director of the Institute for Problems of International Security in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

    This was more of a message that America's worldview is both different from the European Union's and Russia's, rather than just a signal that Russia is part of Europe. The EU is seeking to draw in Eastern resources to become a single entity from the Atlantic to the Urals and, indeed, beyond. Russia, though, is not rushing to meet it halfway, and prefers to develop its own "integration nucleus", but is not strong enough to do so.

    The Americans' perspective of the European space differs entirely - and is much more compact. While previously European capitals were outposts in the battle against the Soviets, present-day Brussels, the EU capital, is an intermediate stop to the energy resources of mainland Eurasia. On their own, neither Russia nor the EU is of much interest to America. It needs a Greater Europe, one that is stable, but not exceptionally strong or too weak either, and, most importantly, open and pervious to American influence.

    A serious quarrel between the EU and Russia could split up this space, which would be bad for America, which wants to ensure that Russia and the EU neither have a close friendship nor an open conflict. Washington is probably happy with the status quo, especially due to uncertainties in the terms, conditions, and exact directions of NATO's movements toward Eurasia.

    However, the pre-summit surge in media reports on democracy in Russia and other CIS member states sent a warning to Central Asian leaders that they should hand over power. Probably the only - and the most important - issue Mr. Bush could have been interested in was whether President Putin was firmly committed to stepping down in 2008 without any tricks. The question is: Did he ask Mr. Putin that question?

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